Their tiny leaves and flower-like fruits give an unusual appearance to Salsola aphylla, a much seen, rarely recognised shrub of the arid inland of the south. The specific name, aphylla, adds to the oddity by denoting that there are no leaves at all; probably aiming to convey the insignificance of the individual leaf.
But the leaves are there! And they make up in numbers for their lack in size. S. aphylla leaves are grey, chunky and fleshy, densely packed in knobbly clusters around the stems. Leaf size is only about 2 mm in diameter or smaller.
The flowers bring a greenish yellow colour to the plant. They are so small that they are seldom noticed as flowers. The fruit, however, enclosed in the dry remains of the flower perianth that splits into five papery wings, tend to be noticed. This conveys the misleading impression of fruit masquerading as flowers (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997; Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010).
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